Talaingod mayor exhorts fellow IPs on ancestral pride
by Jean Duron-Abangan
Talaingod, Davao del Norte (9 November) -- Municipal Mayor Basilio Libayao has called on all who have indigenous people lineage to take pride of their ancestry.
In a press conference during the 13th Kalibulungan Festival, Libayao looked at denial of once identity as lumad as a "big mistake."
"D akong sayop nga dili kita magpaila nga usa kita ka lumad," he said as he called on those with tribal ancestry to keep open their identities saying the government is giving due recognition to those who belong to cultural minorities.
Libayao bared moves of Talaingod Tribal Council to preserve customs and traditions of the Ata-Manobo especially now that settlers are seen coming their way to Talaingod which lies at the borders of San Fernando of Bukidnon, Paquibato of Davao City and Kapalong of Davao del Norte.
Indigenous peoples of Talaingod are generally known as Ata-Manobo but Libayao said IPs in the area have three sub-groups, namely: Kaylawan, Langilan and Talaingod--- whose members share the same rituals, customs and tradition.
In revealing the declining number of Ata-Manobos in Talaingod, Mayor Libayao said the IPs comprise 75 percent of the town's population in 1990s but their number slid to about 60 percent in 2010. He could not, however, offhand figure out the total population of Talaingod.
In the midst of the growing population of settlers in Talaingod, town Councilor Salvador Nepa in the same press conference assured that the interests of Ata-Manobos would not just be put on the sides.
"Dili na mahitabo tungod kay guided kita sa IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act)," he said giving emphasis on the use of resources and lands requiring free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the tribal community.
Councilor Virgilio Tutol who joined the press conference, said the town's "Kabarangayan" project has been targeted to serve primarily, the indigenous communities.
Aside from direct delivery of services, Councilor Pio Paemban revealed that the local government is implementing projects prioritizing tribal communities such as farm-to-market-roads and rural electrification.
The municipal government whose Sangguniang Bayan has only one IP councilor (Jonnie Libayao), is now on the process of passing an ordinance adopting the policy of having one IP representative to the town council.
To further show integration of settlers and IPs in Talaingod, Councilor Nepa volunteered to work on an administrative order for Mayor Libayao to sign, " the A.O. will oblige all government workers to wear ethnic attire even for just one day."
This runs well with the desire of Libayao to see students (whether an IP or a settler) wearing the Ata-Manobo costume. "May adlaw nga lumad ang ila suoton. Dili sila maulaw nga kini isuot," he said referring to students. (PIA XI) [top]